The final round of the season then. With several Championships already settled it was all eyes on who would take the runner up spots in all the LW classes whilst in the Heavyweight (HW)/SuperHeavyweight (SHW) the C2 and the SHW classes had still to be settled. Alex Pritchard was leading Richard Allen by just a single point in C2 whilst Lee Henderson led Bill Taylor by just five points in the SHW’s.
There were also a few interesting entries for the final round with Steve Brown making a welcome return in the Lights and leading HW driver Anwar Beroual-Smith having a one off outing in the Lights for a bit of fun before the serious stuff in the afternoon. Or was he weighing up the opposition with a view to crash diet over the winter and a crack at the Lightweight Championship?
The Route to the Finals.
Josh Adams claimed the first heat of the day. And a very fine win it was too. Daz Teal caught the eye on the opening lap vaulting up the order from grid twelve to lead the opening lap with Adams second from Steve Hicks who had started on the front row alongside James Wattis who spun away his advantage at the first corner. Hicks though was quickly back on the pace taking Adams and Teal in the space of a lap to lead. Rhianna Purcocks was up to fourth after starting sixth and well in the fight along with Ed Barrs, up from ninth. Hicks lead lasted just a lap before Adams went by into a lead he would never surrender. Both he and Hicks pulled clear of the pack as Teal defended from Purcocks who finally went by on the final lap. But it was not without contact and a four place penalty saw her drop to seventh, promoting Teal back to third from Barrs and Alisdair Irvine.
Fraser Brunton opened his account for the day winning Heat Two after leading most of the way. Reece Pope was the star of the heat. Starting from grid ten he worked his way up to second just after half distance. At that point he was four seconds adrift of the leader but he reeled him in only to run out of laps. Garrett Berry was third some five seconds adrift with James Martin fourth. Ned Douglas crossed the line next but lost four places after a late race bump and pass on Dante Dhillon whilst Anwar Beroual-Smith fared even worse, the HW front runner crossed the line sixth only to be hit with a six place deduction for causing Greg Smith to spin to a halt on the first lap. Personally I thought Smith was already spinning when he got tagged but I’m not the observer. Dhillon was the beneficiary promoted to fifth.
Mike Coppin crossed the line first in the third heat after a great battle with Steve Brown. Coppin however was penalised four places after a first lap incident with Ramunas Cerkauskas at turn two which saw the latter run out of road as he entered the turn. Coppin thought the penalty harsh. The top two ran well clear of the pack but as Coppin dropped to fifth in the results Stef Theodouro took second from Andrew Rabbage and Rogerio Mendes.
Dan Healey took a comfortable win in the fourth heat leading all the way from pole. Jack O’Neill closed in over the last few laps but he was hit by two big penalties, the first after nudging Dom Cliffe into a kart stopping spin at turn two and the second for a bump and pass on Callum Brewell. All of which saw Mike Philippou promoted to second ahead of Owen Jenman. Stephen Westwood and Michael Preston.
The whole paddock then fell silent for two minutes to honour the fallen on this Remembrance Sunday. Let us never forget.
Anwar Beroual-Smith took a very fine win in the fifth heat. He started from pole but let’s not forget he was racing 14kg’s over the weight limit. And he was up against some very quick LW drivers. Ed Barrs took the fight to him initially but Beroual-Smith was up to the challenge. Then Barrs got jumped by two of the younger drivers in the field, Reece Pope and Bailey Morgan. Morgan’s pass however was adjudged unfair and despite crossing the line fourth he would be penalised down to eighth. Barrs would get him back on the final lap. Mike Coppin crossed the line fifth but he got his second penalty of the day after a bump and pass on Ramunas Cerkauskas dropped him to ninth and promoted Dante Dhillon and Ami Breacher to fourth and fifth respectively.
Fraser Brunton crossed the line first at the end of the sixth heat with a last lap pass on pole sitter and race long leader Daz Teal. But his joy was short lived as a penalty dropped him down to fifth and handed Teal the win. Rob Langthorp would have been second but a cone penalty dropped him to third and promoted Ned Douglas to second. Greg Smith would have benefited but a cone penalty dropped him to sixth and handed Archie Hobson fourth ahead of Brunton.
Heat number Seven saw Owen Jenman convert pole into a comfortable win from second row starter Steve Brown. Jenman was over three seconds clear at the flag with Brown losing time as he defended from Seager, Healey and Irvine who finished third, fourth and fifth.
Aidan Rudge took an excellent win in the eighth heat. He took over at the front from pole sitter Andrew Rabbage and cruised away at the front to win by over three seconds from Mike Philippou. But Philippou had clipped a cone dropping him to third and promoting James Wattis to second. James Martin took fourth with Dom Cliffe next but he too had a cone penalty dropping him to sixth behind Steve Hicks.
Reece Pope put in yet another strong drive to win Heat Nine from Bailey Morgan. Daz Teal gained another strong haul of points with third place from Chris Lewis-Evans and Alisdair Irvine. Good points for Pope in his battle with Irvine for second in the Championship.
Heat Ten had already been the subject for days on social media but would it live up to expectations? Jed Toole had the dubious honour of being on pole but he ran wide out of the first turn leaving Mike Coppin to take over at the front after starting from the second row. Steve Brown was up to second from fifth from Mike Philippou and Owen Jenman. And everyone was playing nicely. Jenman was quickly up to third taking Philippou out of turn two. A lap later and Jenman was challenging Brown hard for second. He dived up the inside as they both turned onto the short straight and pushed Brown wide. Whilst Jenman got ahead he was bang to rights and would receive a four place deduction post race. Coppin continued to lead but Jenman was really piling on the pressure and Brown was still well in touch. Jenman went for a move on the leader at the first turn but Coppin kept his foot in. He ran wide but hung onto first and Brown took advantage to slip inside Jenman at turn two. The heat was certainly living up to expectations. And now Barrs, Philippou, Healey, Berry and Beroual-Smith had closed in to join in the fun. Two to go and Brown went for the smallest of gaps into turn one. Coppin ran wide and suddenly had Jenman and Barrs to the inside as they headed down to turn two. In a heartbeat he was down to fourth. Berry went round in turn three but was the victim of his impetuosity. Onto the short straight and Beroual-Smith was forced wide but held on. Last lap and still the battle raged. Brown again tried to go through at turn two along with Barrs. Coppin was still in the mix. It was breathtaking stuff worthy of an A Final. Jenman crossed the line first but it was Brown who took his second win of the day and secured pole for the A Final. Barrs was promoted to second with Coppin finally having a bit of good fortune being promoted to third. Philippou was next but lost a place to a cone penalty and dropped behind Healey and Jenman with Beroual-Smith seventh. A fantastic race that lived up to the pre-event expectations.
Josh Adams took a well judged win in the penultimate heat. Andrew Rabbage led for much of the race with Aidan Rudge second from Adams with James Martin fourth from Stephen Westwood. Two to go and Adams moved ahead of Rudge into turn one. Final lap and Adams got a better exit out of turn one and went by Rabbage into turn two for the lead and the win.
Jack O’Neill finally got everything together in the final heat taking the win after starting from the front row. But it would not be enough to get him into the A Final. Fraser Brunton chased him home with pole sitter Stef Theodorou third but several seconds adrift after defending from Dan Seager over the final laps. Dante Dhillon was fifth after holding off a late race challenge from Steve Hicks.
(All drivers in C3 unless otherwise noted)
C2 Keith Segal on pole from Robin Kassam with Jagjeet Singh and Russell Cooper on row two. Row three saw C2 Greg Smith alongside James Dunnett. C2 Ramunas Cerkauskas should have been next but a rib injury had forced him to retire so everyone moved up one place leaving Andrew Bushell sharing row four with Aaron Stillwell. Row five had Sam Morris alongside George Lawlor with Peter Sharpe sharing row six with C2 Tony Philbin. Tim Clarke was on row seven alongside Gareth Pritchard. Row eight had Alex Brandham alongside Ross O’Brien followed by Kim Eley and Rizwan Mangat on row nine. David Hamer shared row ten with Matthew Cliffe followed on the penultimate row by Simon Sharpe and James Browning with Gracjan Kalwinski at the back. Top four to qualify for the B Final and a trophy for the winner.
Segal led the field up to the line but as he rounded the first corner a fast starting Singh was up the inside and into the lead followed closely by Smith. Segal got pushed to the outside and would be down to sixth by the end of the lap. Out of the hairpins for the first time and Smith nipped by Singh for the lead. Over the line at the end of the lap and Smith led from Singh with Bushell up to third and Morris fourth the latter two having fought their way brilliantly up the order over the first lap from mid grid. Kassam was fifth from Segal. Into the first turn and Singh went to the inside briefly getting ahead as he and Smith ran down to turn two. But Smith had the better line and held on although a closely following Bushell almost stole a march on them both to take the lead. But he got slightly boxed in and had to back out of the move. Over the line at the end of the lap and the order remained the same.
Third time around and Singh tried a different attack on Smith. Over the line he went to the outside but Smith moved left to take his line unaware of the fast approaching Singh who took to the grass in avoidance. It looked like the beginning of a huge accident but Singh kept control superbly, helped by the tarmac on the pit lane exit giving him some grip, but lost second to Bushell. Morris was fourth, a second off the back of Bushell but still over a second clear of fifth placed Kassam. Smith looked to have the race under control but then managed to clip the tyres as he rounded the corner onto the short straight. Cone penalty. Singh too also clipped a cone. Both would now have a nervy run to the flag. Singh quickly recovered from his grassy moment and re-took Bushell for second. Singh quickly reeled Smith back in and as they crossed the line seventh time around he went up the inside into the first turn. This time he made the move the move stick. Third placed Bushell then decided he wanted to get a bit racy and began to put pressure on Smith for second. Smith defended but might have been wiser just to let Bushell go and not risk both their races. But it’s easy to be critical from trackside when you aware of all the penalties. When you’re racing you don’t always notice the penalty board. Although judging from the amount of head shaking and gesticulations most do! With eight laps run Singh was over a second clear as Smith and Bushell fought over second but down to the first hairpin Singh suddenly appeared to lose power. Smith and Bushell went by but then Singh regained power and slotted in behind. Fourth placed Morris was some two second adrift as the race wound down but still running clear of fifth placed Kassam and qualifying comfortably. Final lap and Singh again tried his favourite move up the inside into turn one. Another clean pass.
Smith crossed the line first but after his penalty was demoted to second. Singh was next but his penalty dropped him to third leaving third across the line Bushell the winner and recipient of the trophy. Morris was the final qualifier holding off a late surge from Kassam and punching the air with delight as he crossed the line. It’s always great to see a driver enjoying the moment at the end of the race when they’ve done well. Peter Sharpe claimed sixth from Lawlor, Pritchard, Eley and Brandham. Hamer set the fastest lap of the race with Smith the quickest C2 runner although slower than Hamer. Two drivers were excluded for rejoining in an unsafe manner. Hopefully a mistake they will not repeat.
(All drivers in C2 unless otherwise noted).
Archie Hobson on pole from Jack O’Neill the 2021 Champion elect having a torrid time in the heats but getting a win in his final heat otherwise the day would have been considerably worse. Still, I guess if you are going to have a bad day you may as well have it when you’ve already sealed the Championship. C1 Rob Langthorp and Joshua Sangster shared the second row. Chris Lewis Evans and Callum Brewell were on the third row followed by C3 Champion elect Sam Essery and Rogeirio Mendes. C3 Justin Draper and Bryn Alban occupied row five followed by C1 Rhianna Purcocks and Oscar Lancaster on row six. Row seven had Mathew Cockerham alongside C3 Dean Everest followed by Michael Preston and C3 Toby Smith. Jed Toole and C1 Michael Powell were on row nine followed by Thomas Barrett and Dom Cliffe on row ten and C3’s Ami Breacher and Andy Berry on row eleven followed by the qualifiers from the C Final, Bushell, Smith, Singh and Morris. Two to qualify for the A Final and a trophy for the winner.
Hobson brought the field up to the line but went early catching O’Neill napping. All the pole side started quickly and round the first turn the spectators watched with baited breath as Karts ran very wide. One spun but despite the messy start everyone made it safely through the first turns. But there were position changes aplenty. Over the line at the end of the lap and Hobson was clear at the front with Lewis-Evans into second from Langthorp. Purcocks was up to fourth followed by Essery with O’Neill down to sixth from Cockerham. Second time around and Hobson still led but Lewis-Evans had cut the gap. Langthorp was next but coming under pressure from Purcocks whilst O’Neill had got by Essery for fifth. Lewis-Evans was coming under pressure from those behind and in the space of a few corners was down to fifth. But there was much jostling going on through the hairpins with changes quickly being lost and regained. But by the end of the third tour Hobson had increased his lead thanks to the fight behind for second. Langthorp was second but O’Neill was now up to third from Lewis-Evans and Purcocks who went by the former into the first turn fourth time around. Hobson remained at the front but Langthorp, O’Neill and Purcocks were all going quicker and gradually reeling the leader in. Then, bizarrely, as the leaders crossed the line for the start of the seventh tour Langthorp indicated for O’Neill to go by. Which he did and set off after the leader.
Perhaps Langthorp though O’Neill was quicker and better able to catch Hobson and he could stay with O’Neill and get pulled up to Hobson. But if that was the strategy it didn’t work. O’Neill closed in on Hobson but Langthorp wasn’t quick enough to stay with them and now had Purcocks just a Kart length behind. O’Neill quickly got up to Hobson and down into the first hairpin eighth time around Hobson stayed to the left and indicated for O’Neill to go by which he gratefully did. Hobson’s largesse cost him time and both Langthorp and Purcocks closed in. Over the line Purcocks got a run on Langthorp and went by round the first turn and began to home in on Hobson. O’Neill meanwhile was beginning to edge away at the front whilst the battle for second began to heat up. And what an absorbing battle it was as Purcocks tried desperately to get by Hobson. And Langthorp was still right there in fourth ready to capitalise if Hobson and Purcocks tripped over each other.
O’Neill crossed the line four seconds clear punching the air with ironic delight whilst Hobson crossed the line second punching the air with genuine delight. Purcocks was on his bumper just 0.096 behind with Langthorp fourth. A very entertaining B Final. Essery crossed the line next to once again take the C3 honours with Lancaster sixth from Cliffe and Lewis-Evans. Toole claimed ninth with Smith an excellent tenth after driving from the penultimate row. O’Neill set the fastest lap with Sangster the quickest in C2 and Everest quickest in C3. Just one penalty recorded too. A great, hard fought and fair race.
(All drivers in C1 unless otherwise noted)
Pole for the returning Steve Brown showing that despite being race rusty he had lost none of his class. C2 Reece Pope sat alongside with Daz Teal remaining in great form after his victories at Whilton and Lydd. Fraser Brunton sat alongside. Dan Healey and Owen Jenman shared row three followed by Ed Barrs and Josh Adams. Row four saw C2 Aidan Rudge alongside Mike Philippou with James Martin and C2 Dan Seager on row six. Steve Hicks and C2 Stef Theodorou were on row seven followed by two C2’s Dante Dhillon and Alisdair Irvine on row eight. C2 Stephen Westwood and birthday boy Bailey Morgan were on row nine followed by Mike Coppin and C2 Ned Douglas. C2 James Wattis was alongside Anwar Beroual-Smith on row eleven. A fair effort this from Anwar who normally of course races in the HW’s and was competing well above the weight limit. C2’s Andrew Rabbage and Garrett Berry were on the penultimate row from O’Neill and Hobson, the two qualifiers from the B Final.
Brown led the pack away but Pope had to run wide out of the first turn and Teal moved into second. All of which gave Brown a bit of a break at the front. Over the line at the end of the first tour and Brown was three tenths clear of Teal with Pope third from Brunton, Healey, Barrs, Jenman and Adams. Adams slipped by Jenman second time around. Brown continued to lead but Teal was now right on his bumper as they drove towards the first turn. Down into the first hairpin he was later on the brakes and through into the lead. Over the line at the end of the lap and Teal was three tenths clear whilst Brown was now coming under pressure from Pope who slipped by Brown into the first hairpin in a carbon copy of Teals move a lap earlier. If Teal thought he was going to run clear Pope had other ideas and gradually began to close the gap whilst pulling clear of Brown who was now coming under pressure from Brunton who slipped by on lap four at the first turn. A few corners later and Healey demoted Brown another place and the following lap Barrs went by dropping Brown to sixth.
At the front Teal continued to lead with Pope just a kart length back and a kart length ahead of Brunton. Healey remained fourth from Barrs followed by Brown who now had Adams on his rear bumper looking for a way by. And it didn’t take long as Adams went by in the hairpins taking Jenman with him. Teal still led but Pope was now having to defend from Brunton who looked to go to the outside of Pope into the first turn. Pope defended but Brunton suddenly jinked to the right and moved down the inside to take second. Pope was now having to defend from Healey and as they went round the mound Healey went to the inside. Pope defended but had to run a little off line and Healey went by taking a closely following Barrs with him. Great, clean racing. Next time around and Barrs briefly got ahead of Healey but the latter fought back into the first hairpin and held the place. Teal continued to lead from Brunton but only by a kart length whilst Healey was a second back in third with Barrs on his bumper. Pope had fallen away a little and had Adams, Jenman and Brown closing in. Philippou was a lonely ninth, almost two seconds adrift of the fight for sixth but clear of tenth placed Seager by almost three seconds.
Final lap and Teal was using all his experience defending from Brunton, using all the circuit to prevent Brunton getting a run on him. Brunton too was using all the circuit and then some to try to gain some extra momentum. And behind Healey and Barrs were closing in. But Teal hung on clenching his fist in delight as he crossed the line to make it a hat trick of A final wins just a tenth clear of Brunton. Healey held off the outgoing Champion Barrs by a tenth to take the final podium spot with Pope next and clinching second place in the C2 class for the season. Jenman was next from Adams and Brown with Philippou ninth some four seconds back. Seager completed the top ten and took second in C2 for the round with Rudge taking third in the class and eleventh overall. O’Neill came home in fifteenth but for him it mattered not. He’s the 2021 Lightweight Champion. Barrs set the fastest lap on the penultimate tour with Berry the fastest C2 runner. And another clean race with just two drivers suffering penalties.
Championship Round Up
Jack O’Neill won the first five A Finals of the season and looked to be running away with the Championship but both reigning Champion Ed Barrs and Dan Healey kept plugging away and remained in contention. But a late season run from Daz Teal, whilst preventing O’Neill from getting further away, didn’t help their chances. Barrs won two of the last six with Healey one. It was enough to give them second and third in the standings whilst Daz Teal’s sensational end of season form gave him a hat trick of wins and cemented fourth in the table ahead of Mike Coppin who rarely seems to be off the pace but just needs to unlock that last little piece of the jigsaw.
Peter Knight was sixth overall and a comfortable winner of C2 whilst Reece Pope needed a good finish at the final round to take second in the standings. And he delivered too leaving Alisdair Irvine third from Dan Seager and Stef Theodorou who were also twelfth and thirteenth overall.
Sam Essery claimed the C3 honours in some style finishing twenty seventh overall, nine places higher than Ami Breacher in second. Let’s not forget though that the C3 drivers always start their heats near the back. Justin Draper, Jagjeet Singh and Russell Cooper were third, fourth and fifth respectively. A good learning season for them all.
Finally a round where the penalties were few. Hats off to all the drivers who coped so well in the changing conditions. A great end to what has been an entertaining season.
I’d like to thank all the staff at all the circuits, the marshals, the medical staff, the mechanics and observers who do such a brilliant job and a special mention to our two timekeepers Molly Vigor and her assistant Kathryn Goodwin who put up with me wittering in the background!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone. Stay safe and see you all next season!!
Words: Steve Gray
Photography: John Patterson